After some initial confusion regarding their outfield situation in May, the New York Mets seem to have figured out 2/3 of the equation. Center field has been capably manned by Juan Lagares, who is playing Gold Glove caliber defense while hitting a respectable .276. Right field belongs to Curtis Granderson, who put a bad April behind him and has looked much better since moving to leadoff spot just over a month ago. Left field, however, remains a huge crater for the Mets' offense.
The Mets haven't had a good option in left field for a few weeks since sending Kirk Nieuwenhuis back to Triple-A Las Vegas. Most of the playing time has gone to Chris Young, who continues to underachieve. Young is hitting only .204 with eight home runs and 28 RBI's on the season. Aside from a stretch in Milwaukee where he hit four consecutive doubles, Young has brought no power to the Mets' offense for a while. The worst part about Young's increased playing time is manager Terry Collins' insistence on hitting him fifth in the batting order. Young has been a massive rally killer in that spot.
The other options in left field aren't inspring either. After a good start to the season, Bobby Abreu (.238, 1, 14) is showing his age and hasn't been productive as a pinch hitter either. Eric Young Jr (.226, 1, 12) has essentially been forgotten, and if he does play he usually hits ninth in the batting order. The three primary left fielders have combined for 10 home runs and 52 RBI's on a woeful .219 batting average.
That kind of production simply won't cut if for the Mets in left. Unfortunately the best man for the left field job right now is Nieuwenhuis down in Triple-A. The Mets would probably be better suited to just get rid of Chris Young or Abreu and play Nieuwenhuis every day, but the Mets remain unwilling to do that. Abreu may be a veteran voice in the clubhouse, but he is probably the least fitting player for the Mets considering he can't do what the Mets signed him for, pinch hit.
The Mets have to know that they don't have a long term solution in left field on the immediate horizon. Brandon Nimmo, the team's closest prospect, is at least a year away from being ready, so the Mets will likely need to address the left field situation in the trade market. The Mets should look for a left fielder with power, although finding someone that fits that bill may cost more than the Mets are willing to stomach.
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Tags: Baseball, Bobby Abreu, Chris Young, Eric Young Jr, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, left field, MLB, New York, New York Mets
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